1 The Mystical No

Yesterday for almost fourteen hours I sat up high in the small cubic cab of a big red truck with a big young chocolate lab and a young man. All three of us yearned to be at our destination from the moment we started our journey in the darkness before the dawn through each of about one hundred thousand moments, one at a time. The trip was fraught with delays. There was the periodic need for fuel for the truck, and the dog, and the man, and me; there was rain and traffic, and there was a detour that took us thirty minutes out of our way when we thought we would have to run an errand—all of these frustrating delays increased the intensity of our desire to arrive.

What made the journey especially grueling was that the young man was grieving and during this long time in the small cab he presented a range of emotions from anger, fear, disbelief, to kindness, patience, and a pinch of wisdom. I felt as if I was on a tiny roller coaster inside a bottle. When after twelve hours we thought the end was near, the highway suddenly appeared to be so jammed packed with vehicles that we left it altogether and took the longer way through a small city until finally in new darkness, the truck, the dog, and the grieving young man and I arrived home where we were able to separate ourselves from one another and shower and rest in comfortable beds, except for the big red truck of course which, if it could feel, I’m sure would have been content to be still.

I wonder if this year the Lenten journey will be as arduous as the one I was on yesterday. Perhaps if it is I will be just as relieved to arrive at the destination−Easter. If I want Easter as much as I wanted to be home yesterday, and if the way to Easter is as grueling, slow, and rife with frustrations then I think I could become hyper-aware of mankind’s journey from this world to the Kingdom of God.   

I don’t want to get to Easter just because Time whisks me there; I want to walk every step, climb every hill and wade through every muddy stream to travel to the Paschal place of eternal-life made-possible, of reunion with the Creator God and Father.  “No” is the only way to become aware of the journey through Lenten days.  With the use of the “Mystical No” during Lent we enter a small cab, much like the cab of the big red truck where outside there is a world of things that we can’t experience because we are consciously traveling.

In the Gospel of Matthew (6:24) Jesus said that, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”During Lent, to serve the world with its series of satisfied lusts is to refuse to reflect Christ’s sacrificial mission. As with God and mammon, we can’t serve both, lust for comfort and the Spirit.

Christ never asked us to worship Him as we do an actor on stage to be viewed from afar, impressed by his talent and beauty, but rather to follow Him through the roller coaster ride of rejection and glorification to the moment of death in this world and the reopening of the broken bridge to God the Father and our Creator.

Dear fellow aspiring immortal through our willingness to leave comfort in our wake let’s prepare for the painstaking journey of Lent and the marvels we may encounter as we travel in a small cubic cab to the empty tomb.

3 The Decision

As it was in the beginning, so it shall be world without end. Amen.

“Please tell my story” Eve begged yanking my heart’s strings.

“I don’t know that I can,” I replied. “There’s not much to go on, a few sentences and then you ate the poisonous fruit and bam!”

“No, there’s so much more. We actually lived in the Eden for many years. After we were banished it was if we gradually fell asleep year after year we forgot a little more of who we had been, forgot what it was like to walk and talk with God until eventually Adam and I fell into a deep earthy sleep. Suddenly I heard Jesus walking. The sound of His footsteps woke us up! We watched as Jesus did what we used to do in the Garden. Yes! We could walk on water too; it was so much fun. Adam and I had races and dove in to cool off. We played Simon Says with the wind and waves. Jesus reminded us of the days when the world was new and fresh. When Jesus appeared I saw in my mind’s eye the way back to Eden. It was glorious! He was there and here at the same time. He showed me that I could go there, and now I must. But I won’t go alone, the way may be dangerous.”

Eve quickly turned her head and peered into the distance, “Look! They are getting ready to leave the world, bring them with us. Please!”

“Who will believe me that a person can go to Eden during Lent. They will think that’s absurd. They want to blame you for all misery,” I looked into her eyes to see if she flinched when I said that but she didn’t so I continued, “They say that after you disobeyed God the whole world was transformed into a dark and evil place, a far country from which no one on earth can escape. I’ll never be able to convince anyone else that it is possible to go to Eden. They’ll think I’m a heretic.”

 “Oh that doesn’t matter.” She responded, much to my surprise. “The chosen will hear and rejoice because they too have been told that the Garden of Eden still exists on earth. God didn’t say He would annihilate Eden or that He would leave it, He only banished me and Adam. Jesus shows us the way there.  Please be brave, take me home, please?”!

Being relentless Eve added, “What’s the alternative, another walk through the desert? Have you forgotten so soon what the desert taught you? I offer you paradise!”

“Eve,” I replied quietly, “ I think that I am too frightened to go to Eden.  What if we get banished all over again? Nowadays when I fail to resist temptation, or when I disobey God, it doesn’t seem to really matter. But in Eden…well, it’s death!”

“That’s just it. You don’t realize that it matters because everyone here eats freely from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Truly put on Christ, as you think you have and you will be able to exist in Eden! That’s what Jesus showed me when He came. This will be the test for us and our Lenten travelers. Don’t you want to know for sure whether you can make it, before it’s too late? Or would you rather be deluded and comfortable in your own fantasy until Judgment Day!” As Eve said this I wondered if she was hitting me back to see if I too could take the truth.

 “Why wouldn’t you want to go? God is there, He never left.” Eve was wide eyed and more hopeful than ever that I would open the gate to the path back to her birthplace and that I could fill it with Christians who are bold enough and pure enough to inhabit Eden, (as if I could with this blog.) Yet, how could I deny her this wish? She was right; what desert could offer a more challenging or rewarding journey?

Reading my mind, I saw Eve’s face aglow with joy.

“Okay” I conceded meekly, “How do we begin?”

8 Inside Out

“Oh Eve, look at the calendar, Lent is almost over, do you think we’ll make it?”

“I hope so! I’m so excited I can hardly breathe!”

Indeed Eve’s cheeks were rosy and her blue eyes sparkled as I had never seen them sparkle before. Her joy infused my own heart. As someone who had never been to Eden, never even conceived of being able to visit the sacred Garden I too was elated over the imminent homecoming. It would have been impossible, flying pig impossible, to travel this wake-up Lenten journey alone.

“Eve, do you feel yourself waking up?” I asked.

“Like a spring breeze Lent has blown through every room of me looking for life,” she replied enigmatically “and found only buds of it.”   

While I was trying to make the connection between waking up, life, and rooms Eve added: “Let’s see for ourselves, shall we?”

I did not say a word, hoping that Eve would start to make sense.

She nearly reminded me of the fairy godmothers in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. “First let’s check the dining room where we have been eating as in Eden. Our entourage has been so good, never minding a bit that they left the world. Have you hungered much?”

Deciding to play along, I responded, “Not enough. Next week I hope to hunger more. For its limitations Eden was also abundant.”

She went on, “Oh how we have relished the time spent in our library with the immortals! When we see them again we’ll have so much to talk about! Look at this tower, so many books, so little time.” 

Starting to get it I was ready to contribute, “Is the family room ready; look at the children, puppies and friends all talking and sharing cares and experiences?  I think the family room of us is fully alive, right?”

Eve was quick to say it needed work and continued. “As for the bathroom, have we adequately cared for the outside of our fleshy-temples to clean and beautify them?”

“Of course!” I whacked and volleyed with, “and the exercise room too! The inside of the cup:  heart, lungs, and muscles are all ready for Eden.” I began to understand what Eve was doing. The house appropriates the life it is designed for and unites with its inhabitants. A house in right standing with God is a person fully alive. Each room represents an aspect of the holistic life.

Correcting me Eve said, “Wrong! The inside of the cup is the soul which is the umbilical cord to God. That has no room of its own because it is the life force of every room. Now let’s check on the most complex room.” Eve went on. “A good way to know if we can awaken in Eden is to inspect the office, our connection with the world.”

Heading for the office I started to cringe and tighten up. Reading my mind Eve said, “Jesus had more demands on Him than you. Don’t fret He became frustrated too, but let’s work on this room, okay?”

“Eve, can we go to the bedroom now? I am feeling very sleepy and I have a lot of housekeeping to do tomorrow.”

“Of course dearie. Sweet dreams, sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

I wish she hadn’t said that!